Workforce Asset Management—What It Is, Why It Matters

Workforce Asset ManagementPosted by Lisa Disselkamp on May 6, 2013

It’s not every day you witness the birth of a new profession. But that’s where we are today — on the cusp of a new business discipline that will formalize the designation of a role that’s existed informally in organizations for years. It has arrived with the Workforce Asset Management Book of Knowledge (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), known as the WAMBOK, the official book detailing workforce asset management (WAM). The WAMBOK supports the new certification for workforce asset management professionals or “WAM-Pros.” Just as we’ve become familiar with certified project management professionals (PMPs) and certified payroll professionals (CPPs), we will likely be working with—or becoming!—professionals in workforce asset management (PWAMs). These WAM-Pros will be certified in aligning people and technologies to influence how work is structured and what it costs.

What is Workforce Asset Management?
WAM is where HR, Operations, Finance, and IT converge—all for the purpose of creating value for the enterprise (e.g., cost savings, improvement, differentiation, efficiency, and more) and the people within it. It elevates the familiar domain of “time and attendance” from a mechanical, back-office function to a strategic, action-oriented function, worthy of board-level discussion and attention. The term workforce asset management replaces the notion that this domain is simply time collection and automated spreadsheets with a recognition that two important assets—people and technology— must work together by design for effective workforce management.

WAM involves sourcing and designing the right technology to effectively compensate and manage people. WAM extends the boundaries of traditional time and attendance into challenging workforce management problems such as work-life balance, schedule optimization, privacy, remote and mobile workers, and payroll leakage. An important differentiator: WAM-Pros are focused on outcomes, not just processes and systems. When fully equipped with WAM knowledge and tools, WAM-Pros can leverage time and attendance systems and data to solve very complex problems.

Many organizations lack formal, agreed-upon leading practices for using WAM technology to solve long-standing and difficult problems. The absence of WAM-Pros means that WAM systems may be in place, but very likely remain underutilized while important employer problems go unresolved. Pockets of excellence exist, but these positive examples often remain informal and undocumented within the organization. Until the PWAM certification arrived, identifying who had the proper competencies to effectively deploy workforce management systems or where to go to get this knowledge was nearly impossible. It’s ironic that in a domain where the technology has advanced rapidly, the methods and training have remained stagnant for decades.

What do PWAMs do?
WAM-Pros seeking PWAM certification may come from any of the individual functions mentioned above, but pursue the same goals of having their expertise recognized and their influence strengthened. PWAMs foster collaboration and understanding among all the functions, business requirements, and technology options to achieve shared organizational goals. They give their organization a competitive edge by helping to solve three problems that are central in business: productivity, cost, and risk. These are operational and financial issues that each organization faces in one way or another. However, time and attendance is rarely an area people go looking for solutions to these problems—until now.

PWAMs and WAM-Pro’s operate “with intent,” analyzing problems and designing solutions within workforce management (WFM) systems. These three core problems manifest themselves in numerous familiar issues, such as:

  • Striking a balance between compliance and productivity
  • Controlling labor costs and avoiding payroll leakage
  • Streamlining reporting and processing of labor activity for payroll and operations
  • Applying meaningful metrics and analytics vs. simply producing data
  • Mitigating risk and effectively reacting to volatility
  • Improving production and service quality
  • Addressing workplace issues, such as work-life balance, schedule equilibrium, privacy, low-wage worker issues, and universal design

WAM is essential in organizations right now because people are essential. People, and the systems that manage them, are critical, differentiating assets that are vital to fulfilling the organization’s mission. Improving the performance of both is growing more costly and more challenging. At the same time, the demands of risk management and contractual obligations associated with managing a workforce are increasing as well. WAM emphasizes scheduling, compensating, managing, monitoring, and deploying people and designing systems using a leading practice, strategy-driven, and analytics-informed approach. Given these important organizational challenges, this may be just what organizations need, just when it’s needed most.

Stay tuned for the next post in our series on WAM: The Workforce Management Office.

Lisa Disselkamp Lisa Disselkamp, a Director in Deloitte’s Human Resource Transformation service area, is a leading authority on workforce management technology and helping employers increase productivity and profits through their strategic use of workforce management technology systems. She is an author of three books focusing on workforce management and the editor of the Workforce Asset Management Book of Knowledge (John Wiley & Sons, 2013) —the recognized study guide for Workforce Asset Management Certification.

3 thoughts on “Workforce Asset Management—What It Is, Why It Matters

  1. Janaki,
    The industry is ready for this new concept of workforce asset management – and I am glad you are too!
    The recent release of the Workforce Asset Management Book of Knowledge (WAMBOK), [John Wiley and Sons, 2013] is the first step. The WAMBOK will be the basis for online and classroom programs that will draw from the content of WAMBOK and prepare professionals for the CWAM certification. Formal certification is being developed by The Association for Workforce Asset Management (AWAM). Certification is scheduled to be available in 2014.
    Thank you for your comment. Stay up-to-date on developments and more from the WAMBOK by checking the HRTimesBlog for more posts about workforce asset management. I hope that you “Go WAM-Pro” in early 2014!

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